MIDDLE EAST

US to take 'more steps' in Manbij till end of 2018

U.S. special envoy for Syria said his country is going to take "more steps" regarding the Manbij roadmap in Syria and these will be completed by the end of 2018.

Speaking to reporters after the Turkish-U.S. High-Level Working Group meeting on Syria in Ankara, U.S. Syria Envoy James Jeffrey said the Manbij roadmap requires a series of steps.

"The commitment of the United States was from members of the PYD and YPG, who are present in Manbij, to leave and local councils and the local military personnel not to include members of that organizations.

"And so we're going to take a few more steps to ensure that we meet that criteria as soon as possible. And some of them will be completed by the end of December," Jeffrey said.

Turkish and U.S. troops began joint patrols in Manbij on Nov. 1 as part of an agreement that focuses on the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the city to stabilize the region.

Referring to the U.S. move to place observation posts along the Turkish border in northern Syria, Jeffrey said it is to "discourage" harassment fire.

Jeffrey said those are not combat outposts, but observation posts.

"They are not there to stop anyone from shooting... They are to find out what is going on in the ground with the idea that if we are able to observe an area probably there'll be less shooting in that area," he said.

Being asked on the Astana peace process to end the conflict in Syria, which he previously called as a failure, Jeffrey said they do not have a problem with that.

"Astana process is continuing on, we have no problem with that, anything that can deconflict the military situation is fine," Jeffrey said.

Turkey has repeatedly objected to U.S. support for the terrorist PKK/PYD as a "reliable ally" in Syria, which has included supplying arms and equipment.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the death of some 40,000 people, including women and children. The YPG is its Syrian branch.

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